To my darling friends who read this, and to Stella and Lauren for the inspiration.
A SWEET INDUCEMENT
Everything Good is made of Chocolate
Stella opened the little box with a great deal of uncertainty, unsure of what to expect. Then she remained quiet for a moment. "John?" She asked confused, unable to really look at John or at the pear-shaped diamond in the middle of the ring sitting there in the velvet lined box.
Stella didn't know much about rings and she definitely didn't know much about diamonds but she had heard Lauren talk about both of them often enough – when they went through the gossip sections on the magazines and someone famous was getting married – to recognize a quality diamond… and an engagement ring.
"John?" She said again in a quiet voice. "What-what…"
"I think it rather speaks for itself." John said, coming closer and clasping Stella's hands between his big, warm ones and making sure she kept the box and ring. "Stella McAdams, I love you. Would you marry me?"
"What? John, what game is this. You can't just jump on me and ask me to marry you… it's just, it's just…"
"Stella, you don't have to answer me now, I can wait… I just, I know I've made lots of mistakes in this relationship from start, but I now this is right, it feels right and I couldn't not ask you. Take your time, there is no pressure."
"How can you say that? You give me an engagement ring and say there is no pressure!"
"There isn't, Stella," John said, brushing back Stella's hair. "You give me your answer when you give me your answer. I just had to do it." He said as he leaned down, "Just as I have to do this."
And then he kissed her.
With his feelings out and finally putting the past behind, kissing Stella seemed like the best of ideas in a thousand generations of good ideas; especially when Stella kissed him back for full five minutes.
Up until Stella pulled away, "No, John, I can do this right now. I just can't." Stella said and an out the door.
John just stared after her for the longest of times; he didn't even flinch when Lauren practically jumped out of the linen closet and ran after her yelling a "Wait for me!"
He was even less surprised when Jason came out of the linen closet as well. "That didn't go well, did it?" Jason asked mildly.
John just sighed and didn't say anything else.
A day passed, and then two, then a week, and Stella had yet to say yes or to throw the ring to his head and say no. She kept going to work but she always managed to avoid him… or at least to not be alone with him in the same room and gently refused Jess when she asked her over for dinner one day. Stella just kept counting the days to her day off.
Because when her day off rolled around, she could be completely away from John and finally think beyond the fact that she was scared… of what, she wasn't exactly sure, that was just one of the many other things she had to figure out.
"John?" Hannah asked as she looked at her soon, he looked like he hadn't slept for days.
"Oh, hi, mother." He said. "I just came to drop Jess off. Can you bring her by my place at around seven? I'll be there."
"Of course," Hannah said and John was about to leave but Hannah stopped him. "John, what's going on? You don't look right."
"I- I asked Stella to marry me." John blurted out. "She hasn't answered to me yet."
"How long ago?"
"Almost a week." John said, slumping down on Hannah's overly-floral sofa. "She has been avoiding me too… and today is her day off and I just…I can't deal. I really miss her, Mom, I thought she would say 'yes' but as time passes I realize she isn't going to marry me… or she would have said so already. I'm just, I'm just confused."
"Oh, John." Hannah said, voice soft.
"I love her, Mom, I really do."
Hannah comforted John the best she could and send him off to Zephyr's with the promise of bring Jess by his place later. But, actually, that wasn't Hannah's plan… oh, no. Hannah's plan implied an interview she had been delaying for some time now.
And so, Hannah found herself at of Chez McAdams, making her way to Stella's room once Mrs. McAdams informed her which room was Stella's. Hannah came to the door and knocked softly.
No one answered, so Hannah pushed the door open and found Stella sitting at her desk, looking at the velvet box this way and that way as if she wasn't exactly what it was, though she well knew.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, your mother said it was fine if I came up here."
"Mrs. Devane." Stella said. "What are you doing here?"
"We need to talk, child." Hannah said and sat at the bed. "It's about my son."
"You know, don't you?" Stella asked in a small voice.
"He told me he proposed to you, but that you haven't answered."
"That's about right." Stella said. "Did you come all the way here to warn me off saying yes?"
Hannah shook her head. "No, I came to tell you you should marry John."
"What? Mrs. Devane, you don't even like me!"
Hannah was quiet for a moment. "I didn't like the idea of you." She admitted. "I-My family has a lot of money, Stella, I'm not sure you're aware of how rich the Devane Family is but let's just say money is not an issue for us. When I met you, I didn't like what you appeared to be: a young girl with no fortune or prospects who was besotted with my only son. You must admit, it didn't look well."
"You thought I was a tramp?"
"Natural conclusion, I didn't know anything about you. But as the time passed… I realized I had never seen Jess or John as happy as they were when you came into their lives. Sure, you lacked… social polish and I'm quite certain John could marry into fortune… but the truth is that Money can't buy happiness. As John told me once, the creature, that ex-fiancé of his, was of our class, and she still stomped over John's heart." Hannah paused for better effect. "And, on the other hand, you didn't. Stomp on his heart I mean, not until now anyway; you gave John the kind of affection her needed the most, you gave him back his joy, and that's worth more than anything else in the world. So, if you love John – and I believe you do – marry him."
"It's not that simple, Mrs. Devane… I don't believe his really over Chloe, I don't know if he ever will."
"He asked you to marry him, didn't he?" Mrs. Devane said. "The Creature is a thing of the past. John wants you to be his present and his future, otherwise he wouldn't have asked you to marry him. But, in the end, it all boils down to you, Stella. Follow you heart, wherever this may take you – I just hope it takes you to John."
After that, Hannah stood up and walked to the chair. "Ah, and just so you know, Jess is sleeping over with me tonight… in case you want to talk to John in private, he'll be home by seven." And that was all Mrs. Hannah Devane intended to say. The rest was in fate's hands.
With Hannah gone, Stella slumped into her bed and stared at the ring some more thinking in Hannah's words, in John's words… in what everyone had said to her, basically. And then she thought on what her heart had to say and realized she had been looking outside for an answer she could only find inside, in her heart.
She loved John.
Stella had loved him for months… and now he was within her reach, all she had to do was reach for him…
With a resolute nod, Stella got out of bed and put on her coat, tucking the ring into her pocket and ran outside, yelling a brief "Don't wait up!" To her parents on her way out.
It was time to reach, grab and God-knew-what-else Love and never let go.
John entered his apartment feeling completely worn out. Another day had gone by and Stella hadn't called him or anything.
"Mom! Jess! I'm home!" John called, hearing noise coming from the kitchen he figured they were probably there.
Just as he was making his way towards the kitchen, Stella came out, carrying a basket of bread and a salad bowl. "Welcome home," She said and tip-toed to kiss him on the cheek. "Jess is staying overnight with Mrs. Devane." She said casually as she set the food on the dining table. "I used the key you gave me for emergencies to let myself in and I made diner."
"What?" John asked, following her and remaining just a step behind her.
"Hey, just because I make a living out of making deserts that doesn't mean I can't cook something else." Stella said, playing dumb.
"I didn't- I didn't mean that." John said, shaking his head and seizing Stella by the shoulders. She was much smaller than he, and he had too lean down a bit to look at her closely. "Why are you doing here?" John asked in an agonizing whisper.
"Because I love you, you dummy." Stella said, looking up at him as the glimmer or tears began to form in her moss-green eyes. "And I was lead to believe that you wanted to marry me so-"
"Yes, of course I want to marry you." John said, and began kissing her like a mad man.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to answer you," Stella said shyly and breathless, giving John the ring so he could put it on her finger, like it was proper.
John slid the ring into her finger at once. "A week is not so much." It had been hell, but why make her feel bad?
John kissed Stella's hands and her face and then scooped her up, holding her high against him so he could keep on kissing her.
"Uh, where are we going?" Stella asked, noticing they were moving.
"Why?" Stella teased knowing fully well why.
"Because we'll be more comfortable there." John answered.
"Are you sure? I'm pretty comfortable in the living room, and we were about to eat."
"Oh, I'm about to eat, don't worry." John said with a devilish smile. Amazing how everything could go from wrong to right with just one word said by Stella: Yes. "Trust me, Soon-To-Be-Wife, we'll be more comfortable."
"Okay," Stella laughed and settled on John's arms, where she hoped to be for the rest of her life.
Thanks to Everyone for this amazing ride! It's has been great to write this story and that you guys liked it. Thank you for everything. And please, don't miss the somewhat sequel to this - following Jason and Lauren - called Lipstick, Troubles and High Heels. It's still a works in the very early stages of development but I hope it will make it here. And of course, please do stay tuned for the ending of Where Dreams Being (hopefully be up later in the day) and the last Evencort Story: Suddenly You, featuring Maddy-and-Nikki.
Okay, all I really have left to say is thanks! To everyone!
Please review! and See you next time.
Clavie, Master of the Universe.